The news today reads like something out of a horror story: an apocalyptic scenario that would not be out of place in one of those zombie shows or movies that have become popular of late. Chaos and anarchy rule the streets of Tacloban, Leyte – my maternal grandmother’s hometown and one of the poorest cities in the Philippines – in the aftermath of what is now considered the deadliest storm in recent history: Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan.
It is frightening to think that, just a few weeks ago, a killer earthquake stunned the same part of the country. (More specifically, the province of Bohol.) And now, this…
“Assessment of the damage and destruction has begun, search and rescue teams have been deployed and emergency supplies are ready to be distributed to those in the worst hit areas. Thousands of people are likely to be left without food, shelter and water – this is a double blow for the survivors of the earthquake in Bohol and Cebu, who were already struggling to get back on their feet.” – Bernd Schell, representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Philippines
Since the storm tore through the Visayas on Friday, things have been insane and desperate in that part of the country. Dead bodies lie scattered in the streets; some hang from the stripped-bare branches of trees or draped grotesquely around fallen utility poles while others are arrayed like broken dolls against the debris of their homes or the last places where they sought shelter. Looters desperate for food, water, and clothing have rampaged through devastated malls and shopping centers; riots break out whenever someone manages to break through to the cities and towns with relief supplies. The ensuing devastation makes the disaster in Haiti look like a funfair.
“We would urge our fellow Filipinos: Huwag naman po i-take advantage ang misery ng kapwa Pilipino. Hindi ho siguro magandang gawin iyon.” (Trans.: We would urge our fellow Filipinos: please don’t take advantage of our fellowmen’s misery. I don’t think that’s a very good idea.) – Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda
At present, local network GMA has teamed up with Google and the Philippine Red Cross to provide an online person finder to help those abroad, in Luzon, minimally affected parts of the Visayas, and Mindanao to see if their relatives in storm-afflicted areas have been found and/or are all right. International aid has also been pledged and some donations have already arrived. (I just hope those greedy politicians don’t take advantage of these to line their pockets!)
What You Can Do To Help…
While waiting for international aid to kick in, even ordinary citizens such as we can do our own part in helping in the relief efforts.
The following items are the ones needed immediately by those in affected areas:
- Ready to eat food items (sardines, tuna, processed meats, and fruit in retort packs or pull-tab tins; soda crackers and bread; dry cereals, cereal bars, and dried fruit);
- Clothing, slippers, and blankets;
- Drinking water (People are actually rioting and turning violent over the lack of potable water);
- Old tarpaulins or proper tents, tent pegs, ropes to provide shelter;
- Basic medicines (analgesics such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, antihistamines such as chlorphenamine and loratidine, cough medicines, anti-influenza and cold tablets, antibiotics and/or anti-bacterials in capsule or tablet form [suspensions are of no use in areas without water], anti-diarrheals such as loperamide);
- Products for personal hygeine (toothpaste, toothbrushes, sanitary pads, soap, moist/antiseptic towelettes, rubbing alcohol [70% isopropyl or ethyl], hand sanitizers);
- Basic medical supplies (bandages, antiseptic ointments and/or solutions, eye-washes, anti-fungals, surgical gauze);
- Diapers for both infants and adult patients; and
- As grim as this may sound: face masks, latex/surgical gloves, proper cadaver bags or – at the very least – large garbage/hazmat receptacles for the massive burial detail.
For those who want to donate in cash or in kind, you would do well to check out the following:
- UShare by the Philippine Red Cross enables online donors to make Philippine peso-denominated donations via PayPal or credit card;
- A relief mission deployed by the PAREF Woodrose School is scheduled to fly to Palo, Leyte on 25 November 2013. Monetary donations are still being accepted by the school’s accounting office, while donations in kind will be accepted at the Alumnae Affairs Office or at the school gym until 22 November 2013;
- San Beda College – Alabang, my grade school/high school alma mater, is accepting donations through its Community Involvement Center in Alabang Hills Village, Muntinlupa. Please course your donations through Mr. Wilbert Namoc; you can get in touch with him via mobile at 0917-3368468;
- If you’re in the Paranaque area, my brother, Fr. John Francis Frederick Manlapig, encourages people to coordinate with his parish, San Antonio de Padua, along San Antonio Drive, Valley I, Paranaque City. Donations in kind may be brought to the parish office or dropped off with the security guards. For additional details, please contact Ed Loya or Luningning Marcelo at 826-88-77;
- For international donors, the Salvation Army has an online relief drive accepting US$ donations;
- For other international relief venues, CNN recently posted a comprehensive list of institutions asking for donations.
On a personal level, here’s something we can all try to do: let us use social media to help the typhoon victims through #Fast4PH.
In faith & prayer, let us fast – you could just skip one full meal, forego snacks all together, even just not opt for beverages from some posh coffee bar – for at least one week. It’s a small sacrifice, yes, but we can offer it as a prayer for those who have suffered from the worst sort of devastation.
At week’s end, donate what money we have saved for the typhoon relief efforts. No matter how small, anything that we can send over to alleviate suffering in the Visayas will be worth it. Let us do this for our brothers & sisters in need. Feel free to pass this on; retweet this using the #Fast4PH hashtag or use the following text as a status message on Facebook:
“Here’s something we can all try to do: let us use social media to help the victims of #YolandaPH. In faith & prayer, let us fast or even just skip one full meal or forego snacks all together. At week’s end, donate what money we have saved for the typhoon relief efforts. No matter how small, anything that we can send over to alleviate suffering in the Visayas will be worth it. Let us do this for our brothers & sisters in need. Feel free to pass this on.”
It is easy to lose hope in the face of such a cataclysmic disaster, but people need to stay strong. People need to be brave. People have got to be able to move on – something that can only be done if we could all just stick together and do whatever we can to help.
Yesterday, whilst caught in a traffic jam on the way to work, I managed to take a quick pic of a very faint rainbow (as shown above) against a patch of very dark clouds. I’d like to think that despite the open Pandora’s box of disaster and catastrophe, there is a great deal of hope that we will be able to weather even the very worst of storms.